Fresh off her regular season tour that finished off fourteen of the thirty NHL team’s season, the fat lady is once again preparing for her first-round playoff tour. Last we saw of her, she was singing a tune for the New York Rangers on the last Sunday of the season. The Tuesday night prior, she was doing so for Atlanta…a frequent stop on her regular season tour.
Now she looks to begin her post-season schedule in the northeast as both the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators face elimination, down 3 games to 1 in their series with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Tomorrow night, she’ll find her way to Buffalo and D.C. as the Sabres and Canadiens will be hearing the hefty soprano if they fail to defeat Buffalo and Washington in game five of their matchups.
Later tonight, the seventh-seeded Predators will look to push their advantage to 3-1 over the second-seeded Blackhawks as game-four of that battle will be played in Nashville. Colorado and San Jose will also play game five with that series knotted at two-apiece. Tomorrow night, Los Angeles and Vancouver will look to un-knot their series when game-five is played in British Columbia while Detroit travels back to Phoenix with that series tied at 2-each as well.
Thus, the chubby chick will know who to begin preparing her swan song for in those matchups.
So you can see, after about a week and a half of rest, the fat lady will be on the move quite a bit between now and the beginning of next week. It’s a good thing that she’s so quick for such a big gal.
Regarding tonight’s action…the Flyers have gotten themselves to the point of a possible 7 vs. 2 seed upset by way of good ‘ol fashioned tough, physical, hard-nosed hockey. Goalie Brain Boucher, (1.98 GAA & .925 SV%), has to date out done his counterpart Martin Brodeur, (2.98 GAA & .886 SV%)…and the Flyers have held the games close, finding a way to eke out a pair of one-goal wins and a 4-1 game four victory that was 2-1 entering the third period.
Ilya Kovalchuk has a pair of goals, six points and an EVEN rating with 6 PIM.
The Penguins stumbled in game-one of their battle with the Senators, losing 5-4 at home, but have taken the next three games by a combine score of 13-7. Sidney Crosby leads the way with 11 overall points in the post-season, (4 goals and 7 assists) and the Pittsburgh defense has held Ottawa to just 24.5 shots per game, the lowest average in the playoffs so far.
Marc-Andre Fleury has a 3.01 GAA and .878 SV%.
Meanwhile, Montreal really has to be kicking themselves…they were leading 4-1 in game-two after taking the first game from the top-seeded Capitals. But since that time, the Caps have stormed back to win that match 6-5 in overtime and have outscored the Habs 16-5 since the 18:23 mark of the second period of game-two. Niclas Backstrom leads the attack with 5 goals and 4 assists and is tied with teammate Tom Poti with a +8 rating, which leads all skaters so far. Alex Ovechkin has 4 goals and 4 assists and is a +7.
Since relieving Jose Theodore last weekend, Semyon Varlamov is 3-0 with a 2.44 GAA and .920 SV%.
And in one of the most entertaining series to watch for me, the Boston Bruins find themselves on the doorstep of a round-two appearance by edging the Sabres in some very close, very exciting games. The Bruins have come out victorious in two one-goal games and a 5-3 win in which an empty-netter provided the two-goal margin. Last night saw Boston take a 3-2 decision in double overtime…the winning goal scored by Miro Satan while Drew Stafford sat in the penalty box serving a too-many-men-on-the-ice minor for the Sabres.
All Tuukka Rask has done is go 3-1 with a 1.80 GAA and .939 SV%.
One last thing for you to ponder…something I help but think about the other night while watching Philly beat New Jersey. If you look back on the five-game losing streak during last month’s Thrashers March to from the Playoffs, you’ll see that four of the teams they lost to failed to make post-season play. Three of those teams… Tampa Bay, Carolina and Columbus…finished below Atlanta in the standings. But if the Thrashers simply beaten those teams and gone just 3-2 during that stretch, they would have finished with 89 points in the standings and seventh in the Eastern Conference.
If so, we would be playing the Devils and Philly would have to be dealing with Washington at this time.
I know, I know…”ifs” and “buts” and all that….